This post was inspired by the news of U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team member Hillary Knight skating at practice with the LA Kings of theNHL. Naturally, this brought out all of the idiots who have no grasp of either biology or reality. Their (superfluous) argument: that Ms. Knight could play in the NHL.
I will start off by saying that I don’t hate women. I am rather fond of them, some more than others of course. But the media has been pushing this “anything you can do, I can do better” crap ever since the early 1900s. Before Hillary Knight, it was Mo’ne Davis. And it doesn’t take long for someone to bring up the much-ballyhooed victory of Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” in 1972.
While Ms. King did win the match over 3 sets, that ‘victory’ rings hollow when you realize that
- Bobby Riggs was 55 years old at the time of the match and hadn’t been a top athlete in decades. Ms. King was 29 and in the prime of her athletic career.
- Riggs may have thrown the match to pay off gambling debts. Just 4 months earlier, Riggs destroyed Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. Court was the #1 ranked women’s player at the time. Ms. King was #2 (no pun intended).
- Even if he didn’t throw the match, Riggs had gained 15 pounds in the four months since the Court match, didn’t train at all for the King match, and was noticeable out of shape during the match.
So Ms. King’s win proves that women can compete against men in all form of athletics, right? Well, yes, if the men are on the other side of middle age and don’t train at all for the match. Otherwise you can forget that nonsense. Here are a few examples of what happens when ‘equals’ of the opposite sex compete with one another:
- In 1998, Kaarsten Braach beat Venus and Serena Williams in back-to-back matches. At the time, the Williams sisters were two of the top-rated women’s players. Mr. Braach was ranked number 203.
- In 2006, the Warroad high school boys hockey team beat the U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team 2-1. The rules were modified for this game in that body-checking was not allowed. If Ms. Knight did suit up in the NHL, I am pretty sure that she would only last until Zdeno Chara or Alex Pietrangelo checked her into the boards. But those
girlswomen can be proud that the only lost by one goal to the eventual Minnesota State High School hockey champions. Huzzah!
- The women’s world records for track and field are eclipsed by the national records of high school boys. This fact is well-known, but never reported. The best mature female athletes would lose to a group of 15- and 16-year old boys who have yet to reach physical maturity.
- Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Shannon Szabados of Canada is considered the best female goalie in the world. And she does compete with men…in the lowest level of ‘professional’ hockey in the United States, the Southern Professional Hockey League. Ms. Szabados is winless in her short career, with a goals-against-average of 3.55 in the regular season. In her lone start in last year’s playoffs, Shannon had a GAA of 7.80.
If arguably the best female hockey player in the world can’t cut it an the lowest level of professional hockey, why do people think that a lesser player will succeed at the highest level of the men’s sport? Simple: it’s just wishful thinking on their part.
The main reasons why women can’t compete with men in athletics comes down to biology: the female body simply isn’t designed to take the same level of physical punishment that the male body can absorb.
Exhibit 1: the human knee. Perhaps the most fragile joint in the human body. And female athletes are more likely to tear their ACL than male athletes:
The ACL is one of the four major ligaments of the knee and acts as a stabilizer between the thigh (femur) and the shin (tibia), restraining forward motion of the shin. Females who perform jumping, cutting and pivoting sports are 3 to 8 times more likely to tear the ACL than their male counterparts.
The majority of ACL injuries occur without contact or a direct blow. Athletes often report landing awkwardly and the sensation of the knee giving out with an associated “pop”. When there is significant knee pain and swelling after this type of sports injury, there is a 75% chance the ACL has been torn.
The reason why is that the femur of a female intersects the knee at a greater angle than the corresponding male femur. Females also have weaker leg muscles, which means that their knees absorb more of the forces generated by running, jumping, and cutting than the knees of men.
Females have multiple unique factors that increase their risk for ACL tears. Women have weaker hamstrings relative to their quadriceps muscles, which may affect the knee stability and the stress on the ACL.
Some studies have indicated that a female’s body mechanics move differently than males. For instance females jump and land with the hip and knee less flexed than males.
Exhibit 2: Their breasts get in the way. So sayeth ESPN:
But a mounting body of evidence suggests that they (breasts) pose a serious challenge in nearly all corners of competition. Gymnasts push themselves to the brink of starvation to avoid developing them. All sorts of pro athletes have ponied up thousands of dollars to surgically reduce them. For the modern athlete, the question isn’t whether breasts get in the way — it’s a question of how to compete around them.
Research shows a typical A-cup boob weighs in at 0.43 of a pound. Every additional cup size adds another 0.44 of a pound. That means a hurdler with a double-D chest carries more than 4 pounds of additional weight with her on every leap. And when they get moving, the nipples on a C- or D-cup breast can accelerate up to 45 mph in one second — faster than a Ferrari. In an hour of moderate jogging, a pair of breasts will bounce several thousand times.
American archer Kristin Braun says her chest causes clearance issues as she draws her bow; in order to get around it, she anchors the string farther away from her body, which can diminish power and consistency. Australian hurdler Jana Rawlinson received breast implants in 2008, then promptly removed them in hopes of speeding up her times.
But nowhere do breasts pose more of a liability than in the world of elite women’s gymnastics, where any hint of a curve can mean early retirement…”You can’t afford to have a woman’s body and compete at the highest level,” Ryan says.
Huh? What? Where was I?
Oh, right. The Battle of the Sexes. Exhibit 3: females have a higher percentage of body fat and less muscle mass than males. They are also smaller in stature. All of these biological facts mean that women’s bodies can’t handle the same amount of wear-and-tear that men’s bodies can.
Finally, exhibit 4: there are sociological and psychological ramifications to the Battle of the Sexes. When women compete with men, there are only two possible outcomes. The man can play to his full potential and crush her unmercifully, which will result in much resentment and complaints that he should have taken it easier on her. Or, he can let the woman win, in which case he has emasculated himself and, as an added bonus, will never hear the end of it. Rest assured, such a man will be on his deathbed, and the last thing he will hear in his life will be “I beat you!”.
Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t areas of competition where women can compete with and beat men. Billiards, for instance. Women routinely beat men in shooting competitions. But in athletics where reaction time, muscle mass, and the ability to absorb punishment are key women can’t, and shouldn’t, compete with men.
And that’s ok.
Cue the Crüe (sorry, Ma)…